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How is practice going?
"So far, so good. The spirits are obviously up. We had a really good practice today. The competition was good, and I think anytime on the eve of the first day in pads, they're just kind of feeling their [way] a little bit, but nobody got embarrassed. They're having a great time. We're practicing faster and we're covering a lot more stuff because of their retention from what we did in the fall has really helped. We're not like "Step A, Step B," we're moving pretty quickly."
Has does the depth chart factor in during spring practice?
"After about the first 10 days of training camp is when [the depth chart] really starts to shake out. Roles start getting defined and guys start to say, ‘Hey, who's in the top two units, and who's going to really be playing quite a bit. But right now, I told them, ‘Don't worry about anything with the depth chart. Just go out and challenge yourself to get better, to learn, [and] to push yourself.' And now's a little bit about experimentation, too. Try to find out what you can do, because if you're going to get beat as a corner, find out how good [you can be]. Can you walk up and press somebody? Can you get in their face and jam and re-route them and run with them? Now's the time, because if they throw a touchdown today, it doesn't matter. And so we're trying to encourage a lot of that."
When will you start trying guys out in different spots on the depth chart?
"Probably the last two weeks. This week and the first week after spring break, we won't do anything. Just go out, take reps, practice and then if there are guys that have started to challenge [at positions], then we'll probably start splitting some reps with some guys. If we think that there's like a No. 1A and a No. 1B, we may say, ‘Okay, in this 10-play deal, one of you go the first five and the other one go the second five with the first team.' Just to see, because a lot of times, one of the things that coaches always struggle with is that sometimes the second-team guy always looks like he's a little bit better until you find out that he's going against the other second-team [players].
"Particularly in the offensive line – he may be going against the second-team defensive tackle, and now all of sudden, if you put him with the ones, now he's blocking Marvin Austin and he's not making nearly as many good plays as he did. And so we'll even do that this spring, where the ones will scrimmage against the twos and the twos against the ones, just to find out. Because if they've got to go against the other team's best players, you want to find out how they're going to respond."
On defensive coordinator Everett Withers' adjustment:
"I think very good. He's enthusiastic, he's charismatic [and] he runs around. I like guys that practice with a lot of energy. I think the players feed off coaches that are energetic and enthusiastic… Today we had an interception – Richie Rich intercepted a ball and took it in for a touchdown, and I don't know who got to the end zone first, Richie or Everett."
On E.J. Wilson:
"He's a guy that we need to be a legitimate, significant player for us this fall. I've seen a little bit of a change in attitude – I think that he sees with Kentwan [Balmer] being gone and Hilee [Taylor] being gone, and Kyndraus [Guy], it was easy for a lot of those guys to just kind of pass the torch and say, ‘You guys be the leaders. You're the older guys, you're the seniors, you're the guys that have earned this opportunity.'
"Now that you've cleaned that room out with those three guys being gone, now you're looking for other guys to step up. He's the first guy in line a lot of times for doing individual drills. He's a little more vocal on the field than he ever was last year, so I think all of those things are positive signs."